I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

AKB48 -- Heavy Rotation (ヘビーローテーション)

The first time I had ever heard of AKB48 was by truck. Seriously. I was walking down the main drag of Akihabara when I saw one of those huge trucks that often advertise some sort of singer's new release on the side. This time, I saw the three letters and the two numbers, and a few of the girls. I quickly figured out about what the AKB stood for but had no idea that the number would actually refer to the original number of members. I mean, I thought that Morning Musume(モーニング娘。)at their numerical peak (around 14 or so) was quite the gaggle, but more than three times that number on a stage?! Heavy Reinforcement of the stage, I thought.

However, as the months and years passed, AKB48 became a household word in Japanese pop culture (or perhaps a household group of letters and numbers). I never became a fan but even I wasn't blind to the effect they've had. They were popping up on the music and variety shows, the AKB48 Cafe appeared in Akiba next to the Gundam Cafe (would love to see any knife fights between the two groups of fans ), and another friend and I actually took a brief look-see one Sunday afternoon at some sort of performance on the 5th floor (I believe) of the Don Quixote building with a handful of the group. Man, the fans were bouncing about like crazy. Heavy Reinforcement of the floor, I thought.

In all honesty, I could count the number of songs I know by AKB48 on one hand...if that one hand belonged to the X-Man Nightcrawler. One has already been talked about by Marcos V. for "Koi Suru Fortune Cookie"(恋するフォーチュンクッキー)which I like because of that old disco beat. Another is "Heavy Rotation" which is the song that comes into my head by default whenever I hear those letters and numbers.

"I want you...I need you...I love you..."

That's the line I always remember from "Heavy Rotation". This is AKB48's 17th single from August 2010...I was kinda surprised to hear that it was their seventeenth single since I had thought it was one of their earlier shots. Yasushi Akimoto and Yo Yamazaki(秋元康・山崎燿)just created this ultra-cheerful and ultra-bubbly tune that infiltrated my brain like so many Ceti Eels that I couldn't help but feel considerably less blue.

Excerpts of the video were ever-present all over the tube since the song was released but I hadn't realized that it was this particular video for "Heavy Rotation" that had Atsuko Maeda(前田敦子)and crew meeting Victoria's Secret! To be honest, I felt like averting my eyes and giving the girls a stern lecture on an appropriate wardrobe. I'm pretty sure all involved would have snarked off at me using a barrel's worth of "jiji" (old fart).

Moving on...I did wonder about what the deal was with the title. After all, "heavy rotation" to me was about a song that got frequent play on the radio, and that was what did happen to this song. However, according to what I read on J-Wiki, the title refers to someone head-over-heels in love focusing on no one but that target of his/her affections 24/7.

Now, how did "Heavy Rotation" do? Well, it went Triple Platinum for one thing. So hitting No. 1 on Oricon was no problem, and it was the 2nd-ranked song for 2010. In 2011, it was still on the yearly charts in 52nd place.

Apparently, my timing for putting up this AKB48 article was quite good since I believe the group will be having their election within the next few weeks. I would definitely need a programme to keep up with all of the nominees.



  1. Hi, J-Canuck.

    When the AKB48 empire ruin in the future, "Heavy Rotation" is one of the few songs that are going to be considered classics from the group ("Koisuru Fortune Cookie" is also one of them). It truly stands out as a great aidoru song with the catchy chorus full of cute english lines. I always feel like they are telling those lines directly to the random aidoru fan who is listening to them.

    Personally, I took a long time to like the song. I can say I like it now, but it still isn't one of my favorites (I think it'll never be, to be honest), but I especially enjoy it when AKB48 performs it live (really live) with a full band (they did it twice during some FNS specials, if I'm not mistaken).

    Also, the beautiful Yuko Ooshima (her graduation was a big loss to the group) was the center girl for this release. It was a big thing at the time, because it was the first time someone winned over Maeda Atsuko in the elections.

    As for this year's elections, I wish Rino Sashihara (center girl for "Koisuru Fortune Cookie") wins over Mayu Watanabe again, just like she did in 2013.

    1. Hi, Marcos.

      Yeah, I think "Heavy Rotation" will probably be one of the defining songs for the group. Can't believe it's been 10 years since they all started up.

      Both Oshima and Maeda have gone on to bigger and hopefully better things. It looks like with Hello Project/Johnny's grads, the tarento ranks will not run out of members for decades to come.


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